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Data Storage Grows Up

Flexible storage that grows with your business

By Jay Zeffren

One of the most daunting technical challenges facing small businesses as they start up is choosing a data storage system. Firstly, the concepts underlying storage arrays go over most people's heads. Even when understood, the rigid structure demanded by RAID arrays means figuring out exactly how much storage you'll need for the foreseeable future right up front. If you underestimate, you face the hassle of expensive and time consuming upgrades to your storage array. If you play it safe, you will waste capital that would be better spent on other parts of your business.

Data Robotics has developed the DroboPro, a simple and flexible way to store, manage, and protect your data. It's capable of providing all the security and redundancy of traditional RAID arrays, while featuring a high degree of versatility.

The DroboPro has eight bays, each of which can store a 3.5" SATA I/SATA II hard disk drive. The device isn't picky; any 3.5" drive is fine, no matter the manufacturer, speed, or capacity.

Start with a pair of hard drives of any size. Intuitive LEDs on the front of the DroboPro let you know how much of your total disk space is used, and warn you as your disks are running out of space.

As your business and storage needs grow, simply add hard drives into the DroboPro. Whenever you add or upsize drives in the array, the DroboPro automatically restructures the data, optimizing both security and disk efficiency. To do the same thing in a traditional RAID array would require a lot of manual configuration, as well as significant time investment.

The DroboPro supports hot-swapping, so you can add or rearrange your storage system without any downtime. Once your business is big enough that all eight bays are in use, you can still swap any one of the drives out for a higher capacity one.

The DroboPro can alternate between single and dual disk redundancy with a single click, making it easy to find your desired balance between security and storage space. If the array is set to dual disk redundancy, the array can sustain two simultaneous disk failures while still keeping your data accessible and data intact.

If a hard disk does fail, LEDs pop-up alerts and email notifications let you know immediately. The DroboPro then begins "self-healing," restructuring your data so it is as safe as possible. Once the bad disk is replaced, the system once again reorganizes everything to the state it was in prior to the hard disk failure. When you replace the faulty drives, the data heals at a rate proportional to the used space. This is another major advantage over traditional RAID arrays, which require that each bit be copied whether it contains data or not.

The DroboPro is flexible in its connectivity as well. It connects to your network using iSCSI, FireWire 800, or USB. It's compatible with Mac, Windows and Linux platforms and offers file system support for NTFS, HFS+, EXT3 and FAT32. With a Rackmount Kit, you can place it in a standard rack for easy and convenient access.

While the DroboPro doesn't come with any hard drives itself, B&H carries a number of kits perfect for any size business. For businesses just starting up, a 4TB Kit that includes the array and two Western Digital 2TB hard disk drives should provide enough initial storage space. An 8TB Kit has two additional drives, giving larger businesses greater redundancy and storage. The 16TB Kit has a total of eight 2TB hard disks, providing maximum storage capacity.

If you want to use a similar array for home usage, there's a 4-Bay version, simply called the Drobo. The same LED system lets you know when your disks are getting full and if any one of them fails, and it supports the same automatic self-healing and automatic data optimization as the larger business-sized version.

Data Robotics 4-Bay Drobo Robotic Storage Array Enclosure DroboShare Network Attached Storage Expansion for Drobo Storage Robot

Data Robotics 4-Bay Drobo Robotic Storage Array Enclosure

DroboShare Network Attached Storage Expansion for Drobo Storage Robot

Like the DroboPro, the Drobo supports USB and Firewire 800 connectivity. However, it doesn't offer iSCSI Ethernet connectivity. For offices and homes where users need a reliable way to share and backup files via a network, the DroboShare is the way to go. It can connect to up to two Drobos simultaneously, and it supports hot-swap connectivity to networks.

Every business has data storage needs which often grow in tandem with the business. For a storage solution flexible enough to suit your current needs and those you'll have down the line, take a look at Data Robotics' line of hard drive arrays.

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